Book Description

From Publishers Weekly In this impenetrable rhapsody to the apotheosis of French intellectualism, Sartre emerges as a force of nature: a novelist comparable to Faulkner and Joyce; a thinker whose existentialism rivaled Marxism and Freudianism for sway over the modern mind; a political activist whose mistakes are grander than others' successes; a great (though technically lousy) lover whose countless betrayals of Simone de Beauvoir only cemented their soul bond; 'a tremor, a torrent, a tidal wave.' Levy, a French philosopher and writer, assumes readers are as steeped in Sartriana as he is and so dispenses with biographical context and narrative thread in favor of a hop-scotching thematic treatment, full of obscure references. He avoids any systematic development of Sartre's philosophy, indulging instead in vapid color-commentary (Sartre's philosophical writings were 'a series of raids, offensives, commando operations') and opaque ruminations ('Truth is a very long and complex movement in which a 'true' which is no longer 'subject' but 'substance' emerges from itself...'). His denunciations of Sartre's 'Stalinist cretinism' are more coherent, but his insights into Sartre's politics ('there were two Sartre's...almost at war') remain banal. Essentially a 450-page love letter, the book overflows with fawning endearments, petulant reproaches and intimate allusions to epiphanies and quarrels that outsiders will not be able to grasp. Unfortunately, in the haze of grandiloquent verbiage with which Levy surrounds every facet of Sartre's life ('it was in order to have big ideas, to create huge colossal things, that...he had to drug himself') the man and his ideas are lost. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Read more Review 'The book's enthusiasm is infectious. It delves sympathetically into Sartre's ideas and makes a strong case for their importance.' The Economist 'This biography of the French guru is brilliant.' George Walden, The Sunday Telegraph 'Enthralling, absolutely enthralling.' Christian Sauvage, Le Journal du Dimanche 'Bernard-Henri L?vy wonderfully resurrects Jean-Paul as a colossus bestriding the age...It would be hard to imagine a better translation of BHL oracular French. Andrew Brown succeeds in bringing L?vy so flamingly to life as a passionately engaged and combative speaker that you can hear him holding forth on the other side of the table in the Flore or the Deux Magots' Andy Martin, Daily Telegraph 'Sartre, who had refused all kinds of introspection, is here thoroughly revisited in both his life and work. In this journey through the century in which Sartre lived, one learns as much about the twentieth century as one does about Sartre. This is Bernard Henri L?vy at his very best.' Marcel Neusch, La Croix 'Levy is seldom a less than engaging guide to the drama of the rise and fall of one of the last century's most prominent writers and thinkers' Aengus Collins, Irish Times Read more See all Editorial Reviews